Imagine a love story. A very very dark, very perverse love story.
That probably won't help prepare you for Zombie Joe's latest fare, Dirty Little Demon by Joseph Le Compte. Honestly, I'm unfamiliar with his work but this play gets high marks for imagination--and his acting in one of the roles gets high marks as well. Sociopaths such as the one he plays (I would term him a psychopath actually--but then mine remains a perhaps distorted view of what if any difference lies between the two) all too often end up portrayed in terms of one or two notes. Usually rage and a kind of general creepiness. Not so this time! Rather we saw a complete range of an actual human being. A twisted, dangerous human being with desires enough to send anyone running for shelter--but still a real person. Kudos!
In fact pretty much the entire cast does a splendid job.
But first, a few words about the story. And what you can expect to see. Full frontal male nudity to begin. Murder. Cruelty. Sadism. Blackmail. One poor guy who kept crying--with good reason! And blood. Not enough, in my opinion. You slit someone's throat and what happens is--well, you can't really create that effect easily if at all in live theatre but I thought more blood appropriate.
Then again, I don't have to clean up the stage afterwards!
We begin with an unidentified group of (presumably) Satanists raising a Demon. Never mind the cultists, our 'hero' is the Demon played with flare by Matt Harrison. Eventually, we'll get to know him pretty well. Indeed, his hopes and dreams prove the driving force behind the plot. He looks up the charming psychopath David (played by the playwright) as the latter is finishing up with Gabby (Caitlin Reilly, who does quite a lot with not a huge amount of time). Seems the Demon has a favor he wants. One that involves a woman named Angela (Keri Green--who also tends to hit many notes rather than a few!) who proudly proclaims herself as anything but vanilla. Truer words were never spoken. Right now she's well into what appears to be her hobby--blackmailing some guy into dressing up like a little boy and letting her film him getting seduced by a man. David Wyn Harris plays Jeff, her victim, and he was in last year's Blood of Macbeth at ZJU. Remember the aforesaid guy who keeps crying? That is Jeff. And he brings a lot of nuance to what could easily have been a one-note role. In a way, he acts as our stand-in as we get deeper and deeper into this bizarre plot by the Demon--which, as I mentioned before, is a very very dark, very perverse love story.
Plus of course the Demon "invites" a priest named Father Cyrus (Mark Leland) to the party. He too has zero notion what he's getting into.
Did I mention this is a comedy?
Not for everyone's taste, to be sure! But a comedy nonetheless, a comedy based on lust and darkness and the horrible truths in life we'd like to forget. There aren't that many serial killers after all--but a whole lot more than we'd like to exist. Frankly, we share the world with a whole lot more psychopaths than serial killers--people who leave agony and destruction in their wake the way "normal" people leave business cards or used water bottles. In the face of just how casual some genuine horror can be, isn't at least one perfectly natural reaction laughter? This play explores exactly that, as well as the weird connections that people can make even amid a metaphorical House of Mirrors in Hell.
A show like this could be nothing more than a grotesque, a portrayal of sadism and tragedy worthy of the most crass of torture porn flicks. What we get instead is a well-crafted odyssey into the Id, a visit through nightmare, at the hands of a well-directed and extremely precise (this word tends to be extremely high praise coming from yours truly) cast of actors. As the lights come up, you awake. Then you're left with allowing the nightmare to teach what it will--not in terms of overt lessons but by the experience itself.
Dirty Little Demon plays at Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group Fridays at 8:30pm until May 3, 2013 (no show April 5). Tickets are $15. Find the show at Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group at 4850 Lankershim Blvd North Hollywood CA 91601 (Just north of 101-134 Fwys across from KFC). Call (818) 202 - 4120 for reservations.